Bad (1987) by Michael Jackson

Categories: 1987 and Music.

I grew up with “Fat” and have a hard time separating the real song, the title track of this record, from its parody. But I haven’t listened to “Fat” in so long. Listening to Bad for the first time (and to the remaster, no less), I can’t help but wonder, “does “Fat” sound this terrible too?” Read More

All Directions (1972) by The Temptations

Categories: 1972 and Music.

I don’t know what to do with vocal groups. Most of my music-listening life I have been more impressed with the ability to play an instrument well than sing well. So when I listen to a record where the vocalists are all credited but the players aren’t really, I already get muddled, regardless of the music I’m listening to. I just don’t understand the obsession with vocals above all other things. Read More

There It Is (1972) by James Brown

Categories: 1972 and Music.

This is the first studio album of Brown’s that wasn’t a compilation that I’ve ever heard and I have no idea what to do with it. This is Brown’s 38th studio album, which is insane. Brown’s output is just insane which is why most of us are just better off with the boxed set of singles. How does one view this record without having listening to at least some of those 37 previous records? how does one view this without a deep knowledge of where funk was in June of 1972. I don’t have the knowledge of the genre (beyond Read More

God (1981) by Rip Rig and Panic

Categories: 1981 and Music.

It’s no secret the influence American funk had on post punk. But Rip Rig + Panic take that influence to extremes not seen in the rest of the movement.And the influence isn’t limited to funk, but extends to many different forms of African American music, including jazz, which should come as no surprise given that the band is named after a Roland Kirk album. The result is certainly the funkiest post punk record I’ve ever heard, as well as the most soulful. It’s also far and away the most jazz oriented, even more so than a band like The Birthday Read More

The Clones of Dr. Funkenstein (1976) by Parliament

Categories: 1976 and Music.

I think I missed my chance with Funkadelic. I generally like the music but I generally hate the lyrics. Had I discovered Funkadelic between the ages of 17 and 23 I would have absolutely loved that band. Unfortunately, many of the musical things I like Funkadelic’s music significantly more than Parliament’s but there are still these inane, goofy lyrics that do not ingratiate themselves. I get that this is dance music, but listening to it the way I am is not conducive to ignoring the lyrics. This is all very well done, but it is not for me. I like Read More

Maggot Brain (1971) by Funkadelic

Categories: 1971 and Music.

My first exposure to Funkadelic didn’t exactly endear me to them and I generally want to like this record more. It opens with what I am assuming is the definitive Eddie Hazel guitar solo – that’s all it is, really, though it is pretty great – but the rest of the record is a far cry from that title track. The rest of the record is more what I was expecting. Though the lyrics are just about as inane as I was expecting, the bother me less this time out. And the music underlying it those lyrics is pretty much Read More

Where I’m Coming From (1971) by Stevie Wonder

Categories: 1971 and Music.

I’m glad that Wonder was breaking away from the creative constraints of his label and his handlers. And maybe, if I’d heard those earlier albums, I’d see more daring in this record, in his freeing himself creatively. I’d like to hear that, but without listening to those earlier records, I can’t. Instead, I hear a precocious, bratty kid who has just discovered a whole lot of things including, it seems, some philosophy. And like anyone in their early twenties, he’s really obnoxious about it. (I mean, we can’t possibly know what he’s just learned, right?) His lyrics that aren’t about Read More

Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires Live at Nathan Phillip’s Square, July 21, 2015

Categories: 2015 and Music.

I came to James Brown – and soul, funk and so forth – rather late in life, compared to most other genres I have an interest in. And, regardless, I would have never been able to see the Godfather in his prime, had I even wanted to. But I think Charles Bradley probably gave me the closest taste I am going to get. Bradley’s band is a hilarious group of young, almost entirely white, hipsters who play ‘60s Stax-style soul, and ‘60s funk. Bradley himself does a bit of a James Brown thing, with his own spin, but you could Read More

Treme (2010)

Categories: 2010 and TV.

This contains some spoilers I wanted to love Treme, I really, really did. I consider The Wire to be the greatest thing in TV drama history, and Generation Kill was pretty good too. But something got lost in the execution here. The characters are interesting, the sense of place is incredible – at least, as someone who has never been to New Orleans, I assume it is incredible – the music is great (though I could rant about the portrayal of modern jazz) and there are moments of greatness. But this is a show that has no plot. I mean, Read More

The 50th Anniversary Collection by James Brown (Polydor 2003)

Categories: 1956, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1979, 1988, 2003, and Music.

James Brown’s importance can not be understated. He is on The List of the most important musical figures of the twentieth century (along with Louis Armstrong, the Beatles, Miles Davis, Dylan, Duke Ellington, Schoenberg, Stockhausen, Frank Zappa and maybe a few others). This compilation of his hit singles gives a very good idea of his progression and how he turned gritty soul and R and B into funk and thus got sampled more than any other band leader ever. The one downside is that this compilation of his hit singles is missing one of his biggest hits. Hard to understand that Read More